CNN Tonight host Don Lemon recounted his own personal experience with sexual assault Monday night, eliciting widespread praise from #MeToo supporters.
Lemon, who has worked with the network since 2006, rehashed his painful story to viewers in an effort to make a point about the sexual assault and misconduct allegations surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Many conservative politicians, including President Donald Trump, have questioned the validity of Kavanaugh’s accusers’ claims, wondering why the alleged victims waited decades to share their accounts.
Lemon countered this argument, citing the self-doubt that often prevents sexual assault victims from coming forward.
“Why is it so hard to talk about? Well, part of it is fear and part of it is doubt,” the 52-year-old journalist explained. “Will I be believed? Will I be blamed? Will I have evidence? Do I have to relive what happened? Will everyone judge me? And if I speak out, will it even matter?”
The news anchor then played a well-known clip from 2010, depicting the moment he first opened up about his experience with sexual assault.
“You want me to tell you what got my attention about this?” Lemon said while conducting an interview about the sexual abuse allegations against Bishop Eddie Long, a once prominent religious figure who died in January 2017. “And I’ve never admitted this on television: I am a victim of a pedophile when I was a kid — someone who was much older than me.”
Lemon used the clip to explain why it’s “frustrating” that people defend alleged perpetrators of sexual assault with the logic that “boys will be boys,” a sentiment that is often reiterated in the debate about Kavanaugh.
“It has been really frustrating to me to hear people ignorantly excusing a 17-year-old possibly committing sexual assault as ‘boys will be boys,’ ‘teenage hormones,’ ‘testosterone at work here,’” the Lousiana native shared. “Well let me tell you, in my life, it hasn’t mattered if the person was 17 or 70. The pain and the damage are real, and it never goes away.”
But the Emmy award winner became particularly emotional when discussing an anecdote about a relative who is “extremely close” to him, sharing that this person recently revealed that she was sexually assaulted by a boyfriend.
“I’ve been thinking about why she told me this and about why she didn’t tell me sooner,” Lemon said through tears. “And I’ve been thinking about why these women are coming forward to tell the whole country what they say happened, knowing that they will be judged.”
The journalist’s emotional monologue comes one day after Kavanaugh sat down with Fox News to deny the allegations against him.
“The truth is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise,” the Supreme Court contender said with his wife, Ashley, at his side.
Watch Lemon’s full segment below.